As Retail Investors Flood Into Stocks, Professionals Are Dumping Speculative Longs
“Fear of missing out” is quickly becoming the go to phrase for what’s left of America’s stock market investors. As The Wall Street Journal reports, investors have poured money into stocks through mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in 2017, with global equity funds posting record net inflows in the week ended March 1 based on data going back to 2000, according to fund tracker EPFR Global. Inflows continued the following week, even as the rally slowed.
“People went toe in the water, knee in the water and now many are probably above the waist for the first time,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.
That brings individual investors increasingly in line with Wall Street professionals. A February survey of fund managers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found optimism about the global economy improving while investors were holding above-average levels of cash, leaving room for them to drive stocks still higher.
Bullishness among Wall Street newsletter writers reached 63.1% – the highest level since 1987 – a week ago in a survey by Investors Intelligence, before falling to 57.7% this past week.
George Bohmfalk, a 69-year-old retired neurosurgeon from Charlotte, increased his stock allocation to around 80% from 70% in recent months after cutting back on bonds, saying he has faith that remaining loyal to a low-cost passively managed portfolio is more productive than trying to pick winners and losers. But he is concerned about what the Trump administration may do, and he worries about U.S. stocks’ lofty valuations.
“What do you do? If you take your investment out and stocks go up another 1,000 [points], you’re going to be pretty miffed,” he said. “I’m slightly concerned that there might be a pullback, but I’m not losing sleep over it.”
“It feels like this is a hated rally, because people are underinvested, and they’re just catching up,” said Matthew Peron, head of global equities at Northern Trust Asset Management.
Another retiree, Peter Gallavin, 72, of Grand Rapids, Mich., who previously worked for General Motors Co. and as regional personnel director at Delphi Corp., said he is concerned about President Donald Trump and what his policies may do to the market but remains 60% invested in stocks…
“I’ve been investing in the market for long enough to know that sooner or later after it comes up, it’s going to go down, but when that may or may not happen none of us know,” he said.
Even though his financial adviser warns:
“What we’ve seen in the last eight years is not going to continue,”
Perhaps they should be paying attention to the insiders (who are selling like never before)…Ned Davis Research points out that insider selling has been elevated enough to trigger his firm’s in-house bearish signal for 11 weeks in a row, the longest stretch since 2014.
Insider selling is generating a “sell” signal to analysts at Ned Davis Research Inc., a research firm that uses technical analysis. Insider selling at firms whose shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq Stock Market and American Stock Exchange triggered its in-house bearish signal for 11 straight weeks, the longest stretch since 2014.
“The fact that we’ve gotten more selling is a sign of concern that maybe the market has gone a little too far too fast,” said Ed Clissold, chief U.S. strategist at Ned Davis. “We wouldn’t be surprised if there was a modest pullback given how far the market has run.”
And the utter lack of breadth in the market’s most recent advance…
However, despite all that exuberant money flow from the FOMO-followers, not everyone’s buying it as speculators have entirely erased their massive record net long position…
Swinging to net short for the first time since the week before the election…
Finaly, we note that this week saw chaos in emerging market stocks, high yield credit, Treasuries, crude, copper, Chinese money markets, and risk-parity funds… and US stocks clung to gains ahead of next week’s FOMC meeting:
While Millennials may have been the SNAP IPO greater fools, it appears the retirees are the broad market’s greatest fool, getting neck-deep in stocks at record high valuations, once again buying high, only to sell low.